Directed by Andy Kabanoff
MAY 19 - 27, 2017 @ Wyong Grove Theatre
CHILDREN IN STARRING ROLES – BUT THIS IS NO CHILDREN'S PLAY!
One could easily think that Wyong Drama Group's upcoming production of 'The Children's Hour' was a sweet childhood comedy, but nothing could be further from the truth. When left-wing firebrand feminist Lillian Hellman wrote the play in 1934 she gave her dark story an ironic title – a suggestion that this is what might happen if children took control, unchecked by the wisdom that should come with maturity. She based the story on events which had taken place over a hundred years previously, but the story could well have been written yesterday. Audiences will find the story line disturbing familiar.
Like Dalton Trumbo (the subject of the recent film 'Trumbo'), Lillian Hellman and her partner, detective writer Dashiell Hammett, were blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee. No doubt Lillian had strong left-wing leanings, but in this play she raises a flag for Feminism decades before it was fashionable to do so. Her cast of 13 has one male character, 5 adult females and 7 girls between the ages of 11 and 14.
She examines prejudices which still hold sway in society today as two teachers at a girls school are accused of having a lesbian relationship. So controversial was the play that it was not filmed with the plot unchanged until 1961 because of the strict censorship rules which applied in US cinema. Hopefully we are somewhat more broad-minded today but small town narrow thinking still infects today's society. Gossip becomes fact overnight, people are guilty until proven innocent, trial by media wins out in our post-truth world.
Sally Bartley, most recently seen in WDG's 'Steel Magnolias', and newcomer Kathryn Peterson (recently seen in WWLT's 'Dinkum Assorted') explore great emotional depths in the roles of Martha and Karen (played by Shirley MacLaine and Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 film) - two women who run a small boarding school for the daughters of wealthy families and who become the subject of malicious allegations.
Pam Campbell (WDG's 'The Shoehorn Sonata') and Annie Bilton (seen recently in Woy Woy Little Theatre's 'When Dad Married Fury') are both icons of Central Coast theatre and totally convince as the righteous society matriarch and the self-centred actress-turned-teacher whose blindness and insensitivity each contribute to the tragic unfolding of events.
Newcomer Bill Mifsud shines as Karen's fiance, a voice of sanity amidst the madness, and Marta Cabarrus who debuted last year as Herta in WDG's 'Sepia Secrets' brings commonsense and humanity to the role of Agatha.
Kay-lea Sims (soon to appear in Jopuka Productions '13 The Musical') is truly frightening as Mary, every parent or teacher's worst nightmare. Harmony Davies evokes sympathy as the major victim of her bullying. Chloe McWilliam (recently seen in Jopuka's 'Hating Alison Ashley'), Emma Peterson (recently in Wyong Musical Theatre Company's 'Oliver'), Jacinta Cormie, Jorden Hynes and Isabel Purser complete the ensemble of children whose self-devised scenes will entertain and amuse against the dark backdrop of unfolding events.
Direction is by Sally Bartley and Andy Kabanoff (recently seen in 'When Dad Married Fury' at Woy Woy and in his own play 'Sepia Secrets' at Wyong.)
'The Children's Hour' runs from May 19th - 27th at The Grove, Wyong. Details can be found on the Wyong Drama Group website. Bookings are now open. Please join us to be entertained and confronted by this timeless theatrical triumph.
KAREN WRIGHT Kathryn Peterson
MARTHA DOBIE Sally Bartley
DR JOSEPH CARDIN Bill Mifsud
MRS AMELIA TILFORD Pam Campbell
MRS LILY MORTAR Annie Bilton
AGATHA Marta Cabarrus
MARY TILFORD Kay-lea Sims
EVELYN MUNN Emma Peterson
ROSALIE WELLS Harmony Davies
PEGGY ROGERS Chloe McWilliam
LOIS FISHER Jacinta Cormie
HELEN BURTON Jorden Hynes
CATHERINE Isabel Purser
GROCERY BOYS Jacinta Cormie & Jorden Hynes